U-High Midway

A whole new level: Recording studio provides new art opportunities

JAM+SESSION.+Junior+Michael+Harper+monitors+the+sound+input+while+other+members+of+his+band+Rooftop+Parking+record+in+the+studio.+Michael+and+his+fellow+band+member+Sam+DuBose+are+the+sound+engineers+for+the+band.
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A whole new level: Recording studio provides new art opportunities

JAM SESSION. Junior Michael Harper monitors the sound input while other members of his band Rooftop Parking record in the studio. Michael and his fellow band member Sam DuBose are the sound engineers for the band.

JAM SESSION. Junior Michael Harper monitors the sound input while other members of his band Rooftop Parking record in the studio. Michael and his fellow band member Sam DuBose are the sound engineers for the band.

Sophie Hinerfeld

JAM SESSION. Junior Michael Harper monitors the sound input while other members of his band Rooftop Parking record in the studio. Michael and his fellow band member Sam DuBose are the sound engineers for the band.

Sophie Hinerfeld

Sophie Hinerfeld

JAM SESSION. Junior Michael Harper monitors the sound input while other members of his band Rooftop Parking record in the studio. Michael and his fellow band member Sam DuBose are the sound engineers for the band.

Sam Fleming, Chicago Life Editor

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Walk into the new studio on the third floor of Gordon Parks arts hall and the world suddenly becomes silent. The walls are covered in black blocks of sound absorbing material, every sound is pristine and any extra vibrations are immediately swallowed by the room.

The U-High recording studio opened for student use at the beginning of winter quarter, and already students are clamoring to use it. The studio is open to anybody who is involved with music instructor Francisco Dean’s independent study, “the student studio recording project,” in which students learn about what it means to record music, including the basics of sound engineering and mastering.

We should be able to create a place where the kid who wants to do hip-hop, or rock or singer, songwriter can do that, and learn to do it well. This project is helping us to do that.”

— Francisco Dean, music teacher

“There’s a wide variety of student performing groups at Lab of all kinds of genres and I have always felt since the very beginning that we did not have a way to serve those kids,” Mr. Dean said, “We should be able to create a place where the kid who wants to do hip-hop, or rock or singer, songwriter can do that, and learn to do it well. This project is helping us to do that.”

Part of what students love about the space is the freedom it grants them. Although the opportunity to use the studio is not open to all, any student in Mr. Dean’s independent study can bring their musician friends to work in the space.

Sophie Hinerfeld and Megan Moran, students in the independent study, started working on recording a song.

“We’ve used the recording studio to record, arrange and create a final product,” Sophie said. “I don’t understand most of what is going on in there, but I’m so thankful that I go to a school that offers me opportunities to explore things like I am now. I hope in the coming years something like this can become a class so that students have more time to explore cool opportunities like this.”

Although some students may not know the basics of the studio, Mr. Dean enforces that at least somebody in the room always does.

“It’s not a free-for-all. There’s a lot of training that is required for the equipment and a person who wants to perform needs an engineer to even facilitate all that,” Mr. Dean said.

Members of student-led band Rooftop Parking wanted to get involved with the independent study as soon as they heard about it and work to take full advantage of the resource which they now truly love.

“Our band uses the studio every Friday to record,” Michael Harper, the band’s bassist, said. “During the week we find different times to come in and work on mixing and mastering, so it’s really convenient for us.”

The band has just begun working on a 13-song album which they hope they will be finished with by the end of the year.

“We are slowly recording it. It’s a really hard process, though. There are a lot of steps to recording,” Sam DuBose, the lead singer of the band, said.

But more than anything, everyone involved with the project reinforces that despite all the technical skills they have had to learn and the adjustments they have had to make, the recording studio has increased their love for the music they make and affirmed that what they are doing is important to the school.

“A lot of people say this, but music is a language,” Sam said. “I love the feeling of creating something that hasn’t been made before.”

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A whole new level: Recording studio provides new art opportunities